That didn’t take long. Just five months after Apple announced “it’s show time” and unveiled plans for a new video streaming service at a glitzy launch at its Cupertino headquarters, Tim Cook appears to have reached for the remote and firmly pressed the off button.
Apple’s decision to scrap production of ‘Bastards’, an “edgy” new drama series due to star Richard Gere, point to the challenges facing the world’s second-biggest company in its bid to transform itself from a developer of hi-tech gizmos to a provider of media and entertainment services.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Apple was unsettled by the “tone of vigilante justice” in the eight-part series, which depicted the friendship between two Vietnam veterans whose lives are upended when the woman they both loved 50 years ago is killed in a car crash.
Despite stiff financial penalties for doing so, Apple allegedly terminated the project because it was “looking for aspirational programming [and] wanted to ensure the series was focused on the heart and emotion of the central friendship”.
So much for the rebel spirit and devil may care ethos of Apple’s founder Steve Jobs.
Either way, it’s a dilemma that cuts to the heart of Apple’s current predicament — how to inject new life into its business in an era of slowing smartphone sales and flagging consumer buzz around its devices.
Global smartphone sales are expected to fall to 1.74 billion units this year, down from 1.81bn in 2018, while Apple’s share of the market has shrivelled from nearly 18pc in 2016 to just 10.5 per cent this year.
At the launch event back in March when he was flanked by Hollywood stars including Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg, Cook said: “We believe deeply in the power of creativity. Great stories can change the world, move us and inspire us, surprise us and challenge our assumptions.”